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Power struggle in Ankara 25 mars 2008

Posted by Acturca in Turkey / Turquie.
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Turkish Daily News, 24 March 2008

Murat Yetkin

Three messages Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave in Ankara on Friday were of critical importance in terms of the latest developments:

1 – If Turkey is to win, we are ready to lose;

2 – We will not step back;

3 – Our rage is against pro-privileged

You may want to read the last one as the “others,” or depending on Erdogan’s point of view, the “elites who apply power by means of bureaucracy and judiciary.”

Importance of these remarks weighs more with:

1 – The closure case filed by Abdurrahman Yalçinkaya, chief prosecutor of the Court of Appeals;

2 – Erdogan’s rebuttal by using excerpts from the Koran and saying, “Let them add these to the indictment;”

3 – Statement by Hasan Gerçeker, chief justice of the Court of Appeals, urging people to be aware of what they are saying;

4 – Detention of Cumhuriyet daily’s lead columnist Ilhan Selçuk, Workers’ Party (IP) leader Dogu Perinçek and former president of Istanbul University Professor Kemal Alemdaroglu as part of the ongoing Ergenekon crime gang investigation to show that more is yet to come.

Obviously, the parties involved do not use all trump cards and keep some in hand for a later move, depending on the rivals’ move. So we expect mutual attempts.

With his every step and remark, Erdogan proves that he is not mimicking former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan.

Erbakan’s tactic was to comply yet conceal feelings and wait for the disappearance of the first wave. Actually, he neither had enough mass power nor had ideological and political flexibility to do that.

But Erdogan is not so. He applied “one step forward, two steps backward” during the first period of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government. From applying coefficients to points that religious “imam hatip” school students earn in university entry exams to punishment of adultery, we have numerous examples to see his acts, some of which are listed as “anti-laic activities” in the indictment prepared by Yalçinkaya.

We saw the “one step forward, two steps backward” tactic in the course of the presidential elections period.

On the night of April 23, during a reception by Parliament Speaker Bülent Arinç, silent yet determined resistance of the AKP deputies in support of Abdullah Gül’s presidential nomination, Erdogan had no choice but to announce Gül as the party’s candidate. That was the end of this tactic. The decision not to step back was proven by the AKP’s move against the e-warning by the General Staff just came a few hours after the Republican People’s Party (CHP) took the first round of presidential elections to the Constitutional Court on April 27.

The government’s counter-statement on April 28 against the General Staff’s e-warning, was a turning point, not for Erdogan but also for Turkish political history, and in particular political parties in the right that suffered military coups three times.

Erdogan’s decision not to step back was riveted on May 1 by the announcement of early elections.

Then, the July 22 elections followed. The Fethullah Gülen movement had never supported any political parties before. But that happened for the first time and they supported AKP in the elections. Was the Gülen community convinced that this was a breaking point and that the presidential post and the Higher Education Council (YÖK) should no longer hamper the government’s performances? We wouldn’t know this. In the AKP’s 47 percent election victory, however, the Gülen movement had a share as much as the improvement in healthcare and highways services and the blockage against Gül.

Erdogan and his coalition resists against the rival coalition. He might continue to do so until a clear-cut victory, a defeat, or a truce. But will the closed to outside and firm religious communities having very different structure from political parties in terms of internal mechanics and agenda continue to resist to the point of Erdogan’s desire?

One of my colleagues, Samil Tayyar taking the pulse of this coalition very well wrote Friday that the fate of the Zekeriya Öz, Istanbul prosecutor conducting the Ergenekon crime gang investigation, would be similar to that of Ferhat Sarikaya, Semdinli prosecutor who led the Semdinli case. If Öz is being sent, some other prosecutor will be assigned to the duty and the government has already proved that they can do this. I believe whether or not the government’s coalitions with religious communities would be spoiled by religious communities is of great importance in this rivalry of coalitions.

But this is important only for the government’s standpoint; it is not as critical as the course of global economic crisis. A giant wave is about to hit the shore and if the U.S. Federal Reserve cannot push the brake hard, everything would turn into just a minor detail.

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